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10. Christ's Sacrifice Once for All
1For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. 2Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. 4For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith,
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,
But a body didst thou prepare for me;
6In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:
7Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me)
To do thy will, O God.
8Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law), 9then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: 12but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us; for after he hath said,
16This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, saith the Lord:
I will put my laws on their heart,
And upon their mind also will I write them;
then saith he,
17And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21and having a great priest over the house of God; 22let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, 23let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: 24and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, 27but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. 28A man that hath set at nought Moses law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: 29of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; 33partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. 34For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of you possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. 35Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.
37For yet a very little while,
He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry.
38But my righteous one shall live by faith:
And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him.
39But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.
30. For we know him that hath said, etc. Both the passages are taken from Deuteronomy 32:35, 36. But as Moses there promises that God would take vengeance for the wrongs done to his people, it seems that the words are improperly and constrainedly applied to the vengeance referred to here; for what does the Apostle speak of? Even that the impiety of those who despised God would not be unpunished. Paul also in Romans 12:19, knowing the true sense of the passage, accommodates it to another purpose; for having in view to exhort us to patience, he bids us to give place to God to take vengeance, because this office belongs to him; and this he proves by the testimony of Moses. But there is no reason why we should not turn a special declaration to a universal truth. Though then the design of Moses was to console the faithful, as they would have God as the avenger of wrongs done to them; yet we may always conclude from his words that it is the peculiar office of God to take vengeance on the ungodly. Nor does he pervert his testimony who hence proves that the contempt of God will not be unpunished; for he is a righteous judge who claims to himself the office of taking vengeance.
At the same time the Apostle might here also reason from the less to the greater, and in this manner: “God says that he will not suffer his people to be injured with impunity, and declares that he will surely be their avenger: If he suffers not wrongs done to men to be unpunished, will he not avenge his own? Has he so little or no care and concern for his own glory, as to connive at and pass by indignities offered to him?” But the former view is more simple and natural, — that the Apostle only shows that God will not be mocked with impunity, since it is his peculiar office to render to the ungodly what they have deserved. 187187 The quotation is literally neither from the Hebrew nor from the Sept., but is the same as quoted in Romans 12:19; which seems to show that Paul is the Author of both epistles. The Hebrew is, “Mine is vengeance and recompense;” and the Sept., “In the day vengeance will I recompense.” The sense is the same, though the words are different. — Ed.
The Lord shall judge his people. Here another and a greater difficulty arises; for the meaning of Moses seems not to agree with what here intended. The Apostle seems to have quoted this passage as though Moses had used the word punish, and not judge; but as it immediately follows by way of explanation, “He will be merciful to his saints,” it appears evident that to judge here is to act as a governor, according to its frequent meaning in the Hebrew; but this seems to have little to do with the present subject. Nevertheless he who weighs well all things will find that this passage is fitly and suitably adduced here; for God cannot govern the Church without purifying it, and without restoring to order the confusion that may be in it. Therefore this governing ought justly to be dreaded by hypocrites, who will then be punished for usurping a place among the faithful, and for perfidiously using the sacred name of God, when the master of the family undertakes himself the care of setting in order his own house. It is in this sense that God is said to arise to judge his people, that is, when he separates the truly godly from hypocrites, (Psalm 1:4;) and in Psalm 125:5, 188188 The original text referred to Ps 125:3, which seems to be directed more at the fact that the wicked will not persevere over the righteous, whereas Ps 125:5 refers to the wicked joining the “workers of iniquity,” and that “peace will be upon Israel”; neither are quite as explicit as the commentary in terms of the final destruction of the wicked, but in my humble opinion, verse 5 has more relevance.-fj. where the Prophet speaks of exterminating hypocrites, that they might no more dare to boast that they were of the Church, because God bore with them; he promises peace to Israel after having executed his judgment.
It was not then unreasonably that the apostle reminded them that God presided over his Church and omitted nothing necessary for its rightful government, in order that they might all learn carefully to keep themselves under his power, and remember that they had to render an account to their judge. 189189 See Appendix O 2.
He hence concludes that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. A mortal man, however incensed he may be, cannot carry his vengeance beyond death; but God’s power is not bounded by so narrow limits; besides, we often escape from men, but we cannot escape from God’s judgment. Who soever then considers that he has to do with God, must (except he be extremely stupid) really tremble and quake; nay, such an apprehension of God must necessarily absorb the whole man, so that no sorrows, or torments can be compared with it. In short, whenever our flesh allures us or we flatter ourselves by any means in our sins, this admonition alone ought to be sufficient to arouse us, that “it is a fearful thing to fall into to hands of the living God;” for his wrath is furnished with dreadful punishments which are to be forever.
However, the saying of David, when he exclaimed, that it was better to fall into Gods hands than into the hands of men, (2 Samuel 24:14,) seems to be inconsistent with what is said here. But this apparent inconsistency vanishes, when we consider that David, relying confidently on God’s mercy, chose him as his Judge rather than men; for though he knew that God was displeased with him, yet he felt confident that he would be reconciled to him; in himself, indeed, he was prostrate on the ground, but yet he was raised up by the promise of grace. As then he believed God not to be inexorable, there is no wonder that he dreaded his wrath less, than that of men; but the Apostle here speaks of God’s wrath as being dreadful to the reprobate, who being destitute of the hope of pardon, expect nothing but extreme severity, as they have already closed up against themselves the door of grace. And we know that God is set forth in various ways according to the character of those whom he addresses; and this is what David means when he says, “With the merciful thou wilt be merciful, and with the froward thou wilt be froward.” (Psalm 18:25-27.) 190190 The original text had Ps 18:27, but because the quote comes partly from the first half of verse 25, and partly from the last half of verse 26, and is emphasized by verse 27, I decided that all three verses should be referenced.-fj.